Recovery of an MMO Junkie: Recommendation of the Wonderful Virtual Life
Premiering in October 2017, Recovery of an MMO Junkie is still in the midst of its first season, but that doesn’t mean you should sit on this anime. This is especially true if you’re someone who plays video games, as the show’s themes of finding purpose, companionship, and acceptance in a world of pixels is something that any gamer can understand, regardless of whether they play MMOs or not.
The show follows the life of Moriko Morioka, a 30-year-old woman who’s become disillusioned with her taxing corporate job. She decides to quit and become an elite NEET (a Japanese term for someone who’s Not in Education, Employment, or Training). She sits in her apartment all day and plays an MMORPG called Fruits de Mer, only leaving to buy beer or food. Rather than create a woman avatar, she decides to create a male character named Hayashi. In-game, Hayashi meets another character named Lilly, a high level player who helps Morioka learn how to play the game.
Recovery of an MMO Junkie acknowledges a rather fascinating aspect of the gamer culture. Within a video game, players can reinvent themselves with a new gender, sex, race, height, weight, or personality. It’s a bit difficult to explain why someone might want to do this (and how it works) to a person who doesn’t play games, but we gamers know that video games are a welcome means of escapism.
Often, a gamer’s willingness to become someone they’re not is frowned upon. From an outsider’s perspective, it might seem like gamers are running from their problems. And maybe they are, but Recovery of an MMO Junkie suggests that maybe that’s not so bad. Morioka forms some genuine connections as she’s gaming, and the show goes out of its way to make sure that the audience understands that not all of these relationships are as she thinks.
It’s more than a little unbelievable that Morioka would meet some of the real players behind the avatars she plays with. Happening to meet at least one player might be possible, but the show doesn’t stop at one. And if the source material is any indication, she’s going to randomly run into a few more. However, such a random development doesn’t negatively impact the show. At its core, Recovery of an MMO Junkie is about the connections that gamers form as they play online, and how these connections, even though they aren’t with real people, are real enough.